Monotropa hypopitys

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Lancashire Lad
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Monotropa hypopitys

Post by Lancashire Lad » Tue Jul 14, 2015 4:26 pm

Seen today.

Monotropa hypopitys - Yellow Bird's-nest (Also known as Dutchman's Pipe).

This plant is not at all common in Britain, and is exceptionally scarce in the north of England. Luckily, it does appear year on year at one particular local site.

The plant is interesting not only because it is achlorophyllous, (having no chlorophyll), but mycologically too, since it is parasitic on ectomycorrhiza of Tricholoma species, especially T. cingulatum.

I have seen Trich's in the area where these grow, but unfortunately, the fungus fruits later in the year, when there are no remaining signs of the Monotropa.

Click on image to view at full size.
Monotropa hypopitys - Yellow Bird's-nest.
Monotropa hypopitys - Yellow Bird's-nest.
EDIT - More info from BSBI: -
Monotropa contains no chlorophyll, and was until recently thought to be saprophytic (deriving nutrients from decaying leaf litter) but recent research shows that it is actually epiparasitic, using Tricholoma fungi to extract nutrients from living trees in its vicinity (Leake et al. 2004). It is usually found in woods or in scrub. Rumsey (in the New Atlas, op. cit.) describes it as most frequent under Beech and Hazel on calcareous soils, and under pines on more acid substrates. It is sometimes also found in dune slacks, where it is associated with Creeping Willow, Salix repens. It is not listed by Rodwell (1991-2000) as a component of any NVC community. The maps show that in the past it was strongly associated with limestone and chalk soils in the south of England, but that seems a less obvious association in the more recent data. It is a rather transient plant, sometimes appearing in large numbers (hundreds of flowering spikes) at a site, only to disappear within a few years. Sometimes it is found in secondary woodland. It is a lowland plant - the maximum recorded altitude is 395 m, at Buxton, Derbyshire.

Common sense is not so common.

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Re: Monotropa hypopitys

Post by alindsay » Tue Jul 18, 2017 8:03 pm

Hi Mike

Guessing near Darwen for your find?

I have now been pleased to find this plant, 2 years running in a Beech wood near Monks Risborough, Bucks. Only 2 spikes though per season. Delightful nonetheless.

Thanks for introducing me to this phenomena.

Regards Alison

PS by coincidence, met Ian and Pauline (ex-WAB) at Homefield Wood, Bucks this year. We were all there to see the fabulous display of Military Orchids. Nice picture if you click on the link below, though not mine. ... detail.png

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Re: Monotropa hypopitys

Post by adampembs » Sun Jul 30, 2017 8:23 pm

The relationship between species is fascinating. How these things find those niches ! :P

Copper Spike Chroogomphus rutilus is believed to be parasitic on Suillus sp (S.granulatus IIRC) I was pleased to find this. Sorry about putting fungi in Wildflowers forum, but hoping you'll agree it fits in the context.
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Re: Monotropa hypopitys

Post by mollisia » Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:20 am


when associated with beech, it is Monotropa hypophegea / hypopytis ssp. hypophegea.

The association with Tricholoma cingulatum must be a quite rare and exceptional case (only in costal dunes and in alpine areas) - usually you find Monotropas in association with Tricholoma mycorrhiza at Picea abies or Fagus sylvatica - in both cases other Tricholoma species are involved.

best regards,

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